Officials tasked to create the environmental impact statement for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal received more than 124,000 submissions during a four-month public comment period that ended Jan. 22, according to a preliminary count.
The EIS will analyze potential adverse impacts of the terminal, proposed by SSA Marine of Seattle, and of nearby railroad improvements. The three lead agencies that will create the EIS— Whatcom County, the Washington Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—are in the preliminary phase of the process. During this phase, the agencies must decide which impacts will be included.
The public comment period, which ran from Sept. 24 to Jan. 22, gave residents across the region a chance to give input on the scope of the EIS.
Letters and emails made up approximately 108,000 of the total comments received, according to the preliminary count.
The agencies also hosted seven public meetings during the comment period, which drew a total recorded attendance of more than 8,700. People at the meetings submitted 1,419 hand-written comments and 1,207 verbal comments. Of the verbal comments, 865 were given in front of audiences, and 342 were recorded individually.
Officials plan to issue a scoping report in the next few weeks that will include an assessment of the comments. After reviewing the input, they will issue plans for a draft EIS later this year, which the agencies have said could take a least one year to complete.
Additional public comments will be sought on the draft EIS before a final statement is produced.
An official website, at www.eisgatewaypacificwa.gov, provides additional details about the scoping process, project proposals and displays the comments received.